08 Feb There are 4.4 million Texas votes missing

 

By Beth Stevens

My name is Beth Stevens. I am honored and energized to join the Texas Civil Rights Project family as the new Voting Rights Program Director. As a native Texan, I’ve seen firsthand how eligible Texas voters remain shut out of the democratic process — a disparate number of whom are young, poor, and people of color.

I will fight every day to tackle the systemic issues that suppress votes in Texas — from voter registration to suppression at the polls. Right now, our state’s archaic voter registration system is keeping too many people from participating in our democratic process.

Currently, we estimate that there are 4.4 million people in Texas who are eligible to vote but can’t today because of registration issues. How did we get to that number? Let me show you:

As of 2016, there were approximately 17.52 million citizens of voting age in Texas — with 15.02 million actually on the voter registration rolls. That leaves a gap of 2.5 million voters.

Additionally, research from the Pew Charitable Trust indicates that, nationally, one in eight voter registration records is inaccurate or invalid. This means that 1.88 million existing registration records are likely unreliable.

Finally, given Texas’ refusal to adopt online voter registration, failure to adhere with the “motor voter” mandates of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and its crackdown on voter registration drives, Texas’ rolls are at least as bad as the national average — and probably worse.

 

This is where our work comes in.

Our lawsuit against the state’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) for failing to properly register voters though the agency’s website aims to require the state to comply with a decades-old NVRA.

Under Section 5 of the NVRA, eligible voters have a right to register to vote every time they update or renew their driver’s license with DPS. However, the state disregards these requests and fails to comply with federal law.

Right now, we estimate that tens of thousands of voters, at a minimum, mistakenly believe they are registered to vote each election cycle.

In mid-January, after months of delay, DPS violated a federal court order by failing to provide documents necessary to move forward in the case.

We asked the court to hold DPS in contempt and order them to immediately produce the documents. We will not be deterred by this or any other delay by the state — we will continue the hard march toward modernization of voter registration in Texas.

We know that we cannot sit on the sidelines and wait for the state to do the right thing. We must come together and fight to ensure that every eligible Texan is able to exercise their fundamental right to vote.

Please spread the message and let the world know about our #missingTXvotes.

 

Beth Stevens is the Voting Rights Program Director with the Texas Civil Rights Project.